Friday, June 30, 2006

Iranian fighters captured in Iraq

Reuters-BAQUBA, Iraq -- Iraqi and U.S. troops battled Shi'ite militiamen in a village northeast of Baghdad on Thursday, and witnesses and police said U.S. helicopters bombed orchards to flush out gunmen hiding there. Iraqi security officials said Iranian fighters had been captured in the fighting, in which a sniper shot dead the commander of an Iraqi quick reaction force and two of his men. They did not say how the Iranians had been identified.

..."We captured a number of militants and were surprised to see that some of them were Iranian fighters," the police intelligence captain said.

An Interior Ministry official, who did not want to be named, also said Iranian gunmen had been captured. Baquba lies 90 km (60 miles) from the Iranian border.

Some Iraqis, particularly Sunnis, are quick to label Shi'ite fighters as Iranian agents. And among the militants are Iraqis who grew up in refugee camps in Iran, speak Iranian-accented Arabic and, in some cases, carry Iranian identity papers.

More...